Luke 23:42,43 - The Second of the Seven Words of Christ from the Cross.

Luk.23:42,43; The Second of the Seven Words of Christ from the 

Luke 23:42, 43 (KJV)  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me 
when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I 
say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. 

This is the second of seven utterances of Jesus as He hung upon 
the cross, sometimes called the Seven Words. No gospel writer 
mentions more than three, nor less than one, of these utterances. 
Arranged in point of time the seven "utterances" are as follows: 
1. "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (v. 
2. "Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in 
paradise" (v. 43). 
3. "Woman, behold thy son! ... Behold thy mother!" (see on John 
4. "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46; 
Mark 15:34). 
5. "I thirst" (John 19:28).
6. "It is finished" (see on John 19:30).
7. "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" (see on Luke 
23:46). [SDA Commentary] 

The Gospels report seven utterances by Jesus as He hung on the 
cross. Three of these can be assigned to the first three hours, between 
9 a.m. and 12 noon. Four can be assigned to the next three hours, 
12-3 p.m., during which the scene was shrouded in darkness. It is 
traditional during Good Friday services to meditate on these seven 
utterances. Surely there is much here for us to ponder. [Victor Bible 
Background Commentary] 

Only Luke tells this story of the criminals who hung beside 
Jesus. [College Press NIV Commentary] 

To Jesus in His agony on the cross there came one gleam of 
comfort. It was the prayer of the penitent thief. Both the men who were 
crucified with Jesus had at first railed upon Him; and one under his 
suffering only became more desperate and defiant. But not so with his 
companion. This man was not a hardened criminal; he had been led astray by 
evil associations, but he was less guilty than many of those who 
stood beside the cross reviling the Saviour. He had seen and heard 
Jesus, and had been convicted by His teaching, but he had been turned 
away from Him by the priests and rulers. Seeking to stifle 
conviction, he had plunged deeper and deeper into sin, until he was 
arrested, tried as a criminal, and condemned to die on the cross. In the 
judgment hall and on the way to Calvary he had been in company with 
Jesus. He had heard Pilate declare, "I find no fault in Him." John 
19:4. He had marked His godlike bearing, and His pitying forgiveness 
of His tormentors. On the cross he sees the many great religionists 
shoot out the tongue with scorn, and ridicule the Lord Jesus. He sees 
the wagging heads. He hears the upbraiding speeches taken up by his 
companion in guilt: "If Thou be Christ, save Thyself and us." Among the 
passers-by he hears many defending Jesus. He hears them repeat His words, 
and tell of His works. The conviction comes back to him that this is 
the Christ. Turning to his fellow criminal he says, "Dost not thou 
fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?" The dying 
thieves have no longer anything to fear from man. But upon one of them 
presses the conviction that there is a God to fear, a future to cause 
him to tremble. And now, all sin-polluted as it is, his life history 
is about to close. "And we indeed justly," he moans; "for we 
receive the due reward of our deeds: but this Man hath done nothing 
There is no question now. There are no doubts, no reproaches. 
When condemned for his crime, the thief had become hopeless and 
despairing; but strange, tender thoughts now spring up. He calls to mind all 
he has heard of Jesus, how He has healed the sick and pardoned sin. 
He has heard the words of those who believed in Jesus and followed 
Him weeping. He has seen and read the title above the Saviour's 
head. He has heard the passers-by repeat it, some with grieved, 
quivering lips, others with jesting and mockery. The Holy Spirit 
illuminates his mind, and little by little the chain of evidence is joined 
together. In Jesus, bruised, mocked, and hanging upon the cross, he sees 
the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. Hope is 
mingled with anguish in his voice as the helpless, dying soul casts 
himself upon a dying Saviour. "Lord, remember me," he cries, "when Thou 
comest into Thy kingdom."  
Quickly the answer came. Soft and melodious the tone, full of 
love, compassion, and power the words: Verily I say unto thee today, 
Thou shalt be with Me in paradise.  
For long hours of agony, reviling and mockery have fallen upon 
the ears of Jesus. As He hangs upon the cross, there floats up to 
Him still the sound of jeers and curses. With longing heart He has 
listened for some expression of faith from His disciples. He has heard 
only the mournful words, "We trusted that it had been He which should 
have redeemed Israel." How grateful then to the Saviour was the 
utterance of faith and love from the dying thief! While the leading Jews 
deny Him, and even the disciples doubt His divinity, the poor thief, 
upon the brink of eternity, calls Jesus Lord. Many were ready to call 
Him Lord when He wrought miracles, and after He had risen from the 
grave; but none acknowledged Him as He hung dying upon the cross save 
the penitent thief who was saved at the eleventh hour.  
The bystanders caught the words as the thief called Jesus Lord. 
The tone of the repentant man arrested their attention. Those who at 
the foot of the cross had been quarreling over Christ's garments, 
and casting lots upon His vesture, stopped to listen. Their angry 
tones were hushed. With bated breath they looked upon Christ, and 
waited for the response from those dying lips.  
As He spoke the words of promise, the dark cloud that seemed to 
enshroud the cross was pierced by a bright and living light. To the 
penitent thief came the perfect peace of acceptance with God. Christ in 
His humiliation was glorified. He who in all other eyes appeared to 
be conquered was a Conqueror. He was acknowledged as the Sin 
Bearer. Men may exercise power over His human body. They may pierce the 
holy temples with the crown of thorns. They may strip from Him His 
raiment, and quarrel over its division. But they cannot rob Him of His 
power to forgive sins. In dying He bears testimony to His own divinity 
and to the glory of the Father. His ear is not heavy that it cannot 
hear, neither His arm shortened that it cannot save. It is His royal 
right to save unto the uttermost all who come unto God by Him.  
I say unto thee today, Thou shalt be with Me in Paradise. Christ 
did not promise that the thief should be with Him in Paradise that 
day. He Himself did not go that day to Paradise. He slept in the 
tomb, and on the morning of the resurrection He said, "I am not yet 
ascended to My Father." John 20:17. But on the day of the crucifixion, 
the day of apparent defeat and darkness, the promise was given. 
"Today" while dying upon the cross as a malefactor, Christ assures the 
poor sinner, Thou shalt be with Me in Paradise.  
The thieves crucified with Jesus were placed "on either side 
one, and Jesus in the midst." This was done by the direction of the 
priests and rulers. Christ's position between the thieves was to 
indicate that He was the greatest criminal of the three. Thus was 
fulfilled the scripture, "He was numbered with the transgressors." Isa. 
53:12. But the full meaning of their act the priests did not see. As 
Jesus, crucified with the thieves, was placed "in the midst," so His 
cross was placed in the midst of a world lying in sin. And the words 
of pardon spoken to the penitent thief kindled a light that will 
shine to the earth's remotest bounds. DA749-51  

When a prominent man dies, we are anxious to get his last words 
and acts. We ask, "What did he do? What were his last words and 
acts?" The last act of the Son of God was to save a sinner. He 
commenced his ministry by saving sinners, and ended it by saving this poor 
thief.... He was on the borders of hell, and Christ snatched him from the 
grasp of Satan.... D. L. Moody [Spirit Filled Life Devotional SB] 

The conversion of the thief upon the cross, which is an 
illustrious instance of Christ's triumphing over principalities and powers 
even when he seemed to be triumphed over by them. Christ was 
crucified between two thieves, and in them were represented the different 
effects which the cross of Christ would have upon the children of men, 
to whom it would be brought near in the preaching of the gospel. 
They were all malefactors, all guilty before God. Now the cross of 
Christ is to some a savour of life unto life, to others of death unto 
death. (Matthew Henry's Commentary) 

It may have been that while on the cross Jesus had taken 
occasion to acquaint them with the nature of his kingdom. While he might 
have been doing this, one of the malefactors may have continued to 
rail on him while the other became truly penitent. Such a result of 
preaching the gospel would not have been unlike what has often occurred 
since, where, while the gospel has been proclaimed, one has been "taken 
and another left;" one has been melted to repentance, another has 
been more hardened in guilt. (Barnes' Notes) 

The dying criminal had more faith than the rest of Jesus' 
followers put together. Although the disciples continued to love Jesus, 
their hopes for the kingdom were shattered. Most of them had gone into 
hiding. As one of his followers sadly said two days later, "We had hoped 
that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel" (Luke 24:21). By 
contrast, the criminal looked at the man who was dying next to him and 
said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." By all 
appearances, the kingdom was finished. How awe-inspiring is the faith of this 
man who alone saw beyond the present shame to the coming glory! 
[Life Application SB] 

Save our lives. Deliver us from the cross. This man did not seek 
for salvation truly; he asked not to be delivered from his sins; if 
he had, Jesus would also have heard him. Men often, in sickness and 
affliction, call upon God. They are earnest in prayer. They ask of God to 
save them, but it is only to save them from "temporal" death. It is 
not to be saved from their sins, and the consequence is, that when 
God "does" raise them up, they forget their promises, and live as 
they did before, as this robber "would" have done if Jesus had heard 
his prayer and delivered him from the cross. (Barnes' Notes) 

Though it is certain that true repentance is never too late, it 
is as certain that late repentance is seldom true.... Be sure that in 
general men die as they live.  (Matthew Henry's Commentary) 

Jesus possessed the power to have himself removed from the cross 
at any time during the ordeal.  Perhaps, at a point where the 
temptation to act on that power was reaching a pinnacle, God, the Father, 
provided a reminder to Jesus of His purpose and the benefits of 
completing the task. I don't want to imply that Jesus would have ever 
backed out, but "God is faithful" and puts reminders and encouragements 
in our paths to demonstrate His presence.  Maybe this train of 
thought is not theologically sound, but the concept of God sending an 
encouragement in the middle of my trial is very comforting. Doug King  

To add on a thought that struck me is the fact that both the 
malefactors were equidistant from Jesus and had the liberty and were not 
compelled to make their individual decision.  One chose to seek 
deliverance from temporal death and the other chose to seek deliverance from 
the second death. One was interested only in this worldly life and 
the other was interested in eternal life.  The one who was 
interested in this worldly life, if he was delivered by Jesus, would surely 
have gone back to the ways and means of life hitherto he had lived.  
But the one, who desired life eternal, knew that the first death is 
imminent and that there is no escape for anyone from it, but to die with 
Christ is also to rise with Him. Thomas Philip (Evangelist) Bangalore, 
INDIA [thomas.philip@mailcity.com]